Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 -
Rec: November 1993.
ANTES EDITION BM-CD
Woe indeed to the pianist who records the Goldberg Variations. A rite of
passage for most pianists and harpsichordists, it is a challenge to stand
out among a discography of dozens of recordings. It is even more difficult
to record this work with the ever-present spectre of Glen Gould's groundbreaking
recordings. Bach's most famous keyboard work, comprising an aria, 30 variations,
and a repeat of the aria, is fraught with difficulties and is one of the
most challenging works to play with both emotion and the necessary virtuosity.
Konstanze Eickhorst sets out, in this recording, to do what so many other
pianists have done, and, unfortunately ends up doing just that. This recording
is just another Goldberg among the many; nothing really sets it apart from
other recordings of the work. There is nothing wrong with it, but playing
the Goldberg Variations well is far more than just playing the notes and
being good enough to do so. While it starts out well enough, with an adequate
performance of the aria, Eickhorst gets bogged down in the 4th variation,
the first of the work's canons. This is a difficult variation to play, because
of the need to balance the sound between the two hands. Eickhorst sounds
a bit lost, as though she were trying to decide which hand to favour.
Some of the more lively variations, such as the 6th, 11th, and 15th work
well. Eickhorst has a driving energy that fits these variations adroitly.
But the long 25th variation, which calls for much more emotion than is present
here, shows the limitations.
With all the competition in this field, it is a wonder that so many pianists
record the Goldberg Variations. How can one hope to stand out against such
excellent recordings as Glen Gould's two landmark Goldbergs, from 1959 and
1981? Or Andràs Schiff's highly personal, and sometimes idiosyncratic
recording? Or even Murray Perahia's recent masterpiece, that sets the bar
very high for any future piano recordings of this work? This is a difficult
task, indeed, and Eickhorst does not succeed.
An average recording of the Goldberg Variations, with little that makes it
stand out from any of the dozens of other piano recordings of this work.
Bella Musica Edition
Bella Musica Edition (Antes Edition)
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